The holidays are upon us, and if you haven\u2019t implemented social media into your holiday marketing strategy, it\u2019s not too late! I\u2019d like to share how you can continue building your online community using social media for various promotions, sales, and specials, this holiday season. According to\u00a0the Social Media Holiday Purchases\u00a0graphic\u00a0(PDF version also available) by Mr. Youth, 36% of social media users trust brands with a social media presence, and 80% of users who received a response on a social channel went on to make a purchase. Social media can be integral to establishing brand awareness and reputation. \u00a0The holidays serve as a perfect opportunity to consider how you want people to think of your brand. Here are 5 ways you can use social media this holiday season for brand awareness and recognition: 1. Talk to Your Customers Businesses can certainly use social to media to push their products and services, but it can also be used for conversation. Talk to your customers and ask them about their holiday to differentiate yourself. Perhaps this sounds too easy, but simple questions like, "What's your favorite holiday tradition?" or "What are you thankful for this year?" can show that you care. These are the questions that add a personal touch and can help ensure your online community remembers you. But, don't forget to respond! Just asking the questions isn't enough. Customers want to know you're listening, so make sure you're acknowledging their answers. 2. Give Back Most businesses utilize social media during the holidays for give-aways and exclusive sales. While that is a great use, you can also use social media to give back to the community. Are your employees running a food drive? Will you have a company-wide volunteer outing? Is there a holiday charity event you sponsor? Document these holiday activities and post the photos/videos/quotes to your Facebook page or to Instagram with a unique hashtag. Run a promotion where you select a charity and match customer donations dollar for dollar. Whatever way you choose to give back to your community this holiday season, social media can be an excellent tool to promote your efforts. Your customers will enjoy seeing that you are a business that gives back. \u00a03. Encourage Sharing Often, the best social media campaigns are those that \u00a0involve your customers and encourage sharing. There are numerous ways you can get your customers to provide and share rich holiday content on your social media networks. For example, have your online community share and tweet photos of their decorated Christmas tree. One photo can be selected each day to win a 10% discount. You can also combine the "giving back" element here by asking customers to share photos of their charity efforts this holidays season. People want to feel connected, and they use social media to accomplish this. The holidays are the perfect time to bring people together on your networks by encouraging them to share their experiences. 4. Highlight Your Culture You should be using social media to promote your brand year-round, and you can ramp up your culture posts during the holidays. Are you having a Holiday Potluck? Hosting a holiday cookie bake-off? Did you decorate the office? Ugly Christmas sweater contest? Take photos! Fun, silly holiday photos are excellent to post to your Facebook page, for example, and showcase your business. People like to see the personality behind the product. With all of the holiday happenings, you want to make sure you're documenting your company culture as much as possible. 5. Be Helpful People are dealing with a lot over the holidays. You can use social media to offer helpful advice, tips, and facts for customers. Post daily gift ideas, ideas on how to maximize a limited holiday budget, tips for stress-free entertaining. Using a branded hashtag will maintain brand awareness even when the topic may not directly align with your products or services. Everyone appreciates useful advice and your customers will thank you for pushing content that makes their holidays slightly less stressful. Start brainstorming about how you can continue to serve up useful advice beyond the holidays.\u00a0The season will come to an end, but your helpfulness can continue year-round. If you haven't planned ahead this year, that's ok! Your holiday social media activity doesn't require an elaborate plan (though I do typically recommend you have a strategy in place). These 5 simple steps will help you engage your customers with holiday posts and promotions that complement who you are as a brand and\u00a0strengthen\u00a0your online community.